TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues
22 June 2011
Third World Network
WIPO: An understanding emerges on E&L for visually-impaired
Published in SUNS #7173 dated 21 June 2011
Geneva, 20 Jun (Heba Wanis) -- A "non-paper" reflecting a
common understanding among certain key Member States of the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO) on the substantive aspects of exceptions
and limitations (E&L) affecting visually-impaired persons and persons
with print disabilities was circulated during a meeting of the organisation's
Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
This common understanding emerged among WIPO Members Argentina, Brazil, the European Union, Mexico, Paraguay
and the United States,
and is underlined in the non-paper that was circulated on 17 June.
The non-paper is the result of informal discussions that have been ongoing
among these six key WIPO Members even before the SCCR meeting, which
began its twenty-second session on 15 June and runs through to 24 June.
[This SCCR session is exceptionally longer than usual, as it was agreed
at the twenty-first session (8-12 November 2010) that the twenty-second
session will be three days longer to enable specific text-based negotiations
on E&L for persons with print disabilities. (See SUNS #7038 dated
11 November 2010).]
The non-paper contains eight substantive sections covering the following:
definitions; beneficiary persons; national law exceptions on accessible
format copies; cross-border exchange of accessible format copies; importation
of accessible format copies; technological protection measures; relationship
with contracts; and respect for privacy.
Although the non-paper features some common ground among certain countries,
several issues still remain outstanding.
Many other major countries, in particular members of the African and
Asian groups, have yet to signal their agreement with the "non-paper".
Additionally, significant differences continue to persist on the nature
of the instrument itself. Developing countries have been strongly advocating
for a legally-binding instrument in the form of a "treaty".
In May 2009, Brazil,
Ecuador and Paraguay proposed a "WIPO Treaty
for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled
Persons" (SCCR/18/5) with the aim of facilitating access by such
persons to reading material in accessible formats.
Subsequently, the African Group proposed a "Draft WIPO Treaty on
Exceptions and Limitations for the Disabled, Educational and Research
Institutions, Libraries and Archive Centres" (SCCR/20/11).
The treaty approach adopted by Brazil,
Ecuador and Paraguay, as well
as the African Group, received widespread support from the developing
world. On the other hand, the developed countries have opposed a legally-binding
instrument on the matter in favour of an approach that is "recommendatory".
proposed a "Consensus Instrument" (SCCR/20/10), while the
EU proposed a "Joint Recommendation" (SCCR/20/12).
The divergent positions on the nature of the instrument were reinforced
during the opening statements at the twenty-second session of the SCCR
on the topic of E&L for the visually-impaired.
India, speaking on behalf of the Development Agenda Group (DAG, a group
of like-minded developing countries), noted that the issue of E&L
in copyright is an important tool for bringing in the necessary balance
between the interests of rights-holders and the larger public interest.
India expressed hope that the SCCR will progress to the adoption of
an international treaty on this issue, adding that a treaty would ensure
that all countries have in their laws E&L to facilitate access to
reading material for the visually-impaired, while also facilitating
cross-border sharing of works in accessible formats.
"This would benefit not only the visually impaired and reading
disabled community but also enrich the world as a whole," India added.
called for the Committee to agree to recommend the convening of a diplomatic
conference to approve E&L for the visually-impaired and persons
with print disabilities.
In its national capacity, India
noted that the European Parliament had passed a resolution supporting
the adoption of a WIPO treaty for copyright exceptions for the visually-impaired
and persons with other print disabilities. "We hope that this would
be translated to reality," India
South Africa, speaking for the African Group, referred to the Group's
proposal entitled "Draft WIPO Treaty on Exceptions and Limitations
for the Persons with Disabilities, Educational and Research Institutions,
Libraries and Archives" (SCCR/22/12), and expressed hope that the
spirit of cooperation on the issue of E&L for persons with print
disabilities would extend to discussions in the area of educational,
teaching and research institutions.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Asian Group, said that it is important
that norm-setting in WIPO not be limited to IP (intellectual property)
rights and protection but also reflect a broader social and development
context, adding that it looked forward to the conclusion of negotiations
on E&L for persons with reading disability, and to the diplomatic
conference for the adoption of a legal instrument on the issue.
More generally, Pakistan
expressed hope that the SCCR would follow through on a broader and more
meaningful discussion on establishing a normative framework for E&L,
which would encompass other areas of public policies.
on behalf of the Latin American and the Caribbean
countries (GRULAC), said it is willing to "make progress towards
the adoption of a treaty" which will enable improved access for
visually-impaired persons and other persons with print disabilities.
France, speaking on behalf of Group B (comprising developed countries),
stated that the Group is "deeply committed to improve the access
of print and other reading disabled persons to copyrighted material
as reflected in the regional and national legislation of its Member
on behalf of the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS), stressed
that the joint recommendation submitted by the EU provided "the
most efficient and practical solution which would tackle obstacles in
an expedited way".
Developing countries also managed to include an item on the SCCR agenda
on the "Contribution of the SCCR to the implementation of the respective
Development Agenda recommendations".
India, seeking to add the agenda item on behalf of the Development Agenda
Group (DAG) at the start of the SCCR session, urged that the SCCR "simply
follow the practice adopted" by other WIPO committees with regard
to the additional item.
[The inclusion of an agenda item on the implementation of the Development
Agenda (DA) follows the agreed General Assembly 2010 decision on the
coordination mechanism and monitoring, assessing and reporting modalities
(WO/GA/39/7, Annex II). The Assembly agreed to instruct WIPO bodies
to identify the ways in which the DA recommendations are to be mainstreamed
in their work and to include in their annual reports to the Assemblies
a description of their contribution on DA implementation].
In the coming week, the SCCR will also discuss the issue of protection
of audiovisual performances and of broadcasting organisations.
The SCCR session is chaired by Mr. Manuel Gara of Mexico, replacing the outgoing Chair Mr. Jukka
Liedes of Finland.
TO MAIN | ONLINE
BOOKSTORE | HOW TO